Cascade Locks soldier wounded in Iraq


News staff writer

April 15, 2006

A U.S. Army soldier from Cascade Locks was injured during the early morning hours of April 8 when his military unit in Iraq came under enemy fire.

Private First Class Nolan Howell, 21, underwent two major surgeries that same day to remove shrapnel that had penetrated the bicep of his right arm and lodged in his chest. He also sustained wounds to the right side of his torso, including his shoulder, face and neck.

After receiving immediate medical care at field hospitals near Ramadi, Howell was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for further treatment. He was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries received during battle before being transported on Friday to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

His father and mother, Rev. Don and LaRonna Howell, also of Cascade Locks, believe their son’s expected full recovery is nothing short of “miraculous.” Rev. Howell said the shrapnel that penetrated his son’s back from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) narrowly missed his lungs and other vital organs on its path into his chest cavity.

“When they (children) go into military service you kind of hold your breath and do a lot of praying,” he said.

In January, Howell was deployed to Kuwait as part of the First Armored Division “Old Ironside,” First Brigade Combat Team, 1-36 Mechanized Infantry Unit. He was sent to Iraq in February to use training he had received from the Army and as an Emergency Medical Technician with the Cascade Locks Fire Department on the front lines.

Howell, a medic, was returning home from a mission to the north of Ramadi when his unit came under attack from insurgents.

Rev. Howell said Nolan made the decision to join the Army while he was still a teenager. He said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led his son to step forward as a defender of American civilians.

“I think having our country attacked made a profound impact on Nolan’s life. He wanted to stop them (terrorists) from coming to our country again,” he said.

Rev. Howell said his son deferred care packages while in Iraq to gain shipments of candy that could be passed out to children by the soldiers.

“He told me, ‘you’ll never know how much it blesses us when we are able to give something to the children and see them smile,” said Howell.

The recovering soldier and his wife, Katani, live in Cascade Locks with their 13-month-old son, Braeden. The elder Howells pastor the Cascade Locks Assembly of God Church and he also drives a school bus while she works as an instructional assistant at the local school.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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